Unfortunately, the Patriots will have to get the win over the Dolphins without All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski according to head coach Bill Belichick via Mike Whitmer of Boston.com:
In perhaps his strongest comments regarding the tight end’s injury since Gronkowski suffered it on Nov. 19, Belichick said his player simply isn’t ready to play yet.
“He did more last week than he did the week before, and we’ll see where he’s at today and tomorrow when we go out there, see what he can do,” Belichick said on Wednesday, prior to the team’s practice. “We’ll take it day-to-day, based on where he’s at. He’s moving along, not ready yet.”
Gronkowski still hasn’t been ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Dolphins, but Belichick makes it clear that their best offensive threat will likely be watching from the sidelines for a sixth straight game due to a broken arm.
A few things will have to go in the Patriots’ favor on Sunday in terms of clinching home-field advantage and or a first-round bye. New England will have to beat Miami and hope for the Denver Broncos and Houston Texans to lose to clinch home field. As for the first-round bye, the Patriots will be need either the Broncos or Texans to lose in order to slip into the second seed in the AFC.
With the Broncos taking on the lowly Kansas City Chiefs, the best-case scenario for the Patriots will be the Texans falling to the Indianapolis Colts. With head coach Chuck Pagano returning to the sidelines for the Colts after battling cancer, Indianapolis will be given added motivation to come out with the win on Sunday while the Texans continue to lick their wounds after getting stompt on by the Minnesota Vikings last week.